Garage doors are perfectly safe when used properly and kept in good operating condition. However, garage doors that aren’t well-maintained or are misused can cause serious injury or even death. On average, over ten thousand people per year are hurt in garage-door mishaps, and around one-fourth of those injured are children.
That’s why it’s important to understand how to safely use garage doors and ensure safety mechanisms are working as designed. Below is more information about what you should know about safe garage door use to keep yourself and others in the home protected from harm.
An auto-reversing mechanism is designed to open the garage door if the door meets resistance while closing. Garage door openers manufactured after 1990 must contain an auto-reversing mechanism, and its proper functioning is an essential safety feature.
The auto-reversing mechanism is adjustable on the opener, and it can be set to varying levels of sensitivity. If the sensitivity is too high, the door may not close if it detects even the slightest resistance, such as when the door rollers catch or bind on the rails.
However, if reversing sensitivity is set too low, the opener may continue to close the door even when it meets significant resistance; this can be dangerous if the door doesn’t stop when it makes contact with a person.
That is why you should periodically test the door’s auto reversing mechanism to be sure it functions as intended. To test the mechanism, place a short 2×4 board across the door threshold and attempt to close the door; if the door strikes the board and immediately reverses, then the mechanism is set properly.
However, if the door closes on the board and stops, then the mechanism will need adjustment to increase its sensitivity. Consult your garage door opener manual to learn how to adjust the sensitivity level of the reversing mechanism. Once you make the adjustment, perform the board test once again to determine if the reversing mechanism is properly set.
Another important safety feature on garage doors manufactured in 1993 or later is the photoelectric eye mechanism. This system incorporates an electric eye that detects if an invisible beam has been broken. If the beam is broken, such as by a passing person, pet, or object, then the opener won’t permit the door to close.
Ordinarily, the photoelectric eye won’t allow the door to close if the beam isn’t detected. However, a malfunctioning system may allow the door to close regardless of the presence of an obstruction. Such malfunctions may include cut or damaged wiring, dirty lenses, or other problems that interfere with the system.
If you discover problems with the photoelectric eyes, then you will need to contact a qualified garage door specialist for help. They can diagnose the cause and perform the necessary repairs.
Garage Door Balance
A consideration often left out of the garage door safety discussion is the proper balancing of garage doors. Ideally, garage doors are carefully balanced and will remain in whatever position they are placed along the rails. In addition, balanced garage doors should be easily raised or lowered by hand.
However, it is common to find garage doors that aren’t properly balanced. Depending on the adjustment setting, some doors will drop if left alone, while other doors will fly upward at high speed. Either situation could result in someone being hurt by the door’s sudden movement.
That is why garage doors should be checked to determine if they are balanced. To test the doors, lower them about halfway and let go to see what happens; be sure to stay out of the way in case the doors violently move.
If the door doesn’t remain in its stationary position, the problem lies with the tension placed on the torsion spring. The torsion spring is mounted above the door and will need to be adjusted to either release some tension or add a small amount it to it.
Torsion springs are powerful, and mishandling them could be deadly. As a result, never attempt to turn any screws or nuts on a spring. Instead, contact a qualified professional who has the tools and knowledge to make successful, safe adjustments.
Manual Release Mechanism
Another significant safety consideration is understanding how to manually release the garage door from the automatic opener. The garage door is attached to a separate, manual release lever that enables you to take control of the door’s operation.
For example, this is essential to have if the door accidentally shuts someone inside the garage and the door opener fails. In addition, if your home experiences a power failure, you will also need a method to release the door from the opener.
If you are a homeowner and have questions about garage door safety and other concerns, be sure to contact AAA Garage Door, Inc. for help. The professionals at AAA Garage Door can provide you with expert advice and perform necessary repairs.